Remember this post? We pulled Kerri out of public school and sent her to Catholic school because of bullying. And we had a great first year. But alas, it is starting all over again...and it's the same story: a special needs student who gets aggressive with his classmates and uses inappropriate language and gestures. Just this past week, he pushed Kerri twice, stuck his tongue out at her, called her names, kicked her snow fort, and managed to do pretty much the same thing to several other classmates. He even tried to stab another student in the eye with a pencil - but got him in the back instead. Usually this happens during recess, or on the bus - or when a teacher was not watching. Sounds extremely familiar, right?
Except that this time, Kerri and I are better prepared, and in a better school. And we have had some serious talks. Because at first, Kerri was told by the teacher and myself to be nice to this boy. I was unaware of the extent of his outbursts, and boy do I feel guilty about this. We were told the boy likes Kerri, so they sat him next to her, paired him up with her in gym, and basically Kerri has had to put up with the abuse because he is special and likes her. So Kerri did not tell the teacher or me what was happening - she was afraid the teacher would get mad or tell her to be nice to him. But as soon as Kerri told me, I wrote a note and the teacher called me - and we have talked twice now this past week. My daughter (and yes I told her this) does not have to be nice to someone who bullies her - and irregardless of their special needs, they do not have a right to abuse my daughter verbally or physically. And since this all has happened before at the other school, Kerri is now being re-traumatized all over again: something I made very clear to the teacher was not acceptable. And I demanded they be separated in class, and at gym, which she agreed to do.
Kerri also has been reassured that if her teacher or anyone gets mad at her, she is to tell me right away. She knows I will do whatever is necessary so she feels safe. Her teacher has reassured us both. And then I bought Kerri two wonderful books, which have really helped us deal. So much so, that Kerri is not having nightmares and is back to going to bed by herself after getting tucked in.
The first book is called: "Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids." by Carol McCloud.
The second book is called: "What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide To Overcoming Anxiety" by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D.
Kerri told her teacher about her bucket book, and the teacher liked it so much she borrowed it and read it to the entire class. The second book has really helped Kerri deal with the bullying, and putting her worries into perspective. And of course we reinforce the positive and nurturing environment at home, and Kerri is constantly reassured that her parents have her back - no matter what. And that bullying is NOT acceptable - not even if there is a medical or emotional special need that is behind the behavior. We can all be understanding, but I draw the line when my child is being hurt. No one should have to worry about placating a bully and being nice to them over their own feelings, or to avoid bullying - that message alone is excusing the bully and re-victimizing my kid! Especially not at school, which is supposed to be a safe environment.
Which leads me to sharing this post: Views From The Couch . I can so relate.
I know I am repeating myself, but I cannot stress this enough. It is so not OK for Kerri to be told that she is getting all this unwanted attention from this boy simply because he likes her - or the fact that she has been told to be nice to him. I know I am (usually) teaching her to be kind and give the other cheek...but sometimes I wish I could just tell her to fight back. In the meantime, Kerri, the teacher and I have an understanding. I hope the teacher keeps her word - she has not let me down yet. And I am really praying the boy gets the help he needs at home - because there is only so much the school can do.
I also hope and pray that deep down, Kerri understands that this is not OK...and that she gains the confidence to speak up and continue sharing with us when things like this happen so we can intervene on her part. I cannot help the bully...but I can empower my daughter so she can stand up for herself and others. No matter what a teacher, school board, other parent, or society thinks.
Life with Kerri is not turning the other cheek this time.